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Does your home insurance policy cover termite damage?

Does your home insurance policy cover termite damage?

The presence of termites in your house can be a cause for alarm for your family’s as well as your home’s well-being. Unfortunately, by the time you spot the termites, they may have already caused significant harm to your property. 

Worse, the average home insurance policy usually does not include coverage for termite damage, which is considered gradual damage arising from negligence or improper maintenance. While you may be able to buy a specialised insurance policy from a pest control agency, dealing with termite damage can be expensive. You need to be particularly careful about termite damage if you are buying a house that was previously occupied.

If you are concerned about the presence of termites, consider getting your home inspected by a pest control expert, ideally before you move in but certainly at regular intervals. Besides helping you fix or prevent termite damage to your home, a pest control expert can also advise on how often you’ll need to take further measures. For instance, you can prevent termite infestation by putting in place a soil barrier or trench around your home, with the soil coated with a termite repellent or poison, which may be effective for a few years. 

You should remember that the methods pest control experts are likely to suggest, such as the soil barriers, are preventative measures and cannot help if termites are already present in your home. You may need to apply the termite repellent or poison directly to the infested areas in such a case.

Again, if your home has been infested, you’ll likely need more than one termite control measure, depending on whether your home has vulnerable areas where timber and water are available near each other. In the event your home is infested multiple times, stronger and more frequent treatment may be required.

What is home insurance coverage for termite damage likely to cost me?

Your home insurance provider will likely not cover termite damage, which leaves you paying for the pest controller to inspect and treat your home, as well as footing the bill for any repairs. Hiring a professional pest control inspector who may use advanced imaging tools to check for termite presence under the floorboards in your home, can cost you between $250 and $350.

This cost varies based on the size of the infestation, the location and construction quality of your home, and the type of treatment and chemicals used. You may have to pay more if you buy an extended warranty along with the treatment. Some of the methods used, with illustrative costs, are discussed here.

  • Termite repellents: You can choose to treat termite infestation by applying termite repellent at the infested spots. This is only a temporary measure as other parts of your home may still be damaged by termites. This may cost you up to $500. 
  • Termite poisons: You can consider using a termite poison which is slower to act but more effective than the repellent as the termites tend to carry the poison back to their colony, eliminating the termites in the nest as well. While termite poisoning will likely put a stop to the infestation in your home, it may not be enough if you live in an area likely to support multiple termite colonies. You may have to pay as much as $700 for treating your home with termite poisons.
  • Termite barriers: You may need to install a treated soil barrier as a preventative measure if your home is infested often. This will likely involve drilling into your home’s concrete slab near, for instance, your home’s outer edge or patio and around pipes. Since this process uses specialised chemicals, it can cost you as much as $3,500, although you don’t have to repeat the process for a few years.
  • Termite baiting stations: Some pest controllers may recommend using an even more specialised technology called baiting stations, which are designed to prevent the termites from growing their colony. You may need to check from time to time if the termites are consuming the bait which contains a growth regulator. These baiting stations are meant to repel termites besides helping you monitor and prevent their growth, but termites may avoid the baiting station by finding other paths to your home. Installing a baiting station and deploying the bait may cost you as much as installing a termite barrier.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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